‘I like the idea of plucking something out of its downward spiral and arresting its importance.'
Cornelia Parker (b. 1956, Cheshire) has been concerned with formalising forces beyond our control, containing the volatile and transforming it into something that is quiet and contemplative. She is fascinated with processes in the world that mimic cartoon ‘deaths’ – steamrollering, shooting full of holes, falling from cliffs and explosions. Through a combination of visual and verbal allusions, her work triggers cultural metaphors and personal associations, which allow the viewer to witness the transformation of the most ordinary objects into something compelling and extraordinary. Working with sculpture and installation, as well as embroidery, drawing, photography and film, Parker positions her subjects at the very moment of their transformation, suspended in time and completely still.
Some of her best-known works include Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View (1991), a garden shed frozen at the moment of explosion, its fragments surrounding a single lightbulb, and Thirty Pieces of Silver (1988-89), a large-scale installation of suspended and flattened silver objects including teapots, candle sticks and dinnerware. Her engagement with the fragility of existence and the transformation of matter is exemplified by Heart of Darkness (2004), which consists of the formal arrangement of charred remains from a forest fire. In Transitional Object (PsychoBarn), commissioned for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Roof Garden in 2016, Parker appropriated the dismantled components of a traditional American red barn to recreate the façade of the Bates family motel seen in Hitchcock’s film Psycho, confronting as Parker describes, ‘the polarities of good and evil’.